Event Photography Case Study: Corporate Event with Holograms

View of the Meydenbauer Event Center in Seattle, Washington at Dusk with construction cranes in the background during a corporate event

Event Photography Case Study: Corporate Event with Holograms

  • Type:            Multi Day Corporate Event

  • Location:     Bellevue, Washington (Seattle)

  • Event Size:   Medium

  • Difficulty:   Advanced (on stage hologram during Keynote)

  • Elements:     Keynotes, General Session, Holograms, Breakout sessions, Trade show

  • Skills:         Experienced photographer, Challenging/Changing Lighting Conditions,

  • Challenges: On Stage Holograms, Travel, New Venue, Scouting.

  • Fun Facts:    Travel to Seattle, Working with Microsoft, Cutting Edge Hologram Tech

Having never shot at this venue, I arrived the evening before to scout the location. Since I am not an early riser, I decided to shoot the exterior of the event venue while I was there. I found the best angle to capture the building and waited for dusk when the sun has set but there is still some color in the sky.  This was a longer exposure than you might expect and a tripod was used. Experiment with different times after sunset until you find the right balance of natural and artificial lighting. If you shoot to early, you wont get the deep blues of the sky and the artificial lighting will not be as dramatic or pronounced. If you shoot to late, the sky will be to dark or black and the street lights become too dominant. This kind of shot is also great to add to the images you deliver to your client because it adds context to the event and helps tell a story.

Crowds of conference attendees line up for registration at the beginning of a large corporate event

Shot inside the event center on the first morning of open registration. This is probably the busiest and therefore best time to capture registration. Your clients want to show a successful event and nothing says that better than full registration lines. Timing is important so make sure you are available day one for these shots as lines tend to get smaller quickly after the initial rush. Elevated shots are always good to get so look for possibilities particularly where crowds are expected.

On stage rehearsal for a performance of a hologram image of BB King with a stage hand standing in for a live performer scheduled for a keynote speech.

I made sure to be available during rehearsals to test lighting and how the hologram of BB King would look on digital capture. My client was very keen on me capturing this well as this was the first time they had used full sized holograms alongside  live performers during a stage event. There would not be a second chance during the actual keynote so having a chance to get my exposures tuned in ahead of time made the whole shoot less stressful for myself and the client.

Hologram of BB King performing on stage along side a live guitar player prodigy during the opening of a general session at a corporate event

Here are a few observations about holograms. First, they are not sharp by nature so getting a crisp, sharp life-like image, in camera of a hologram that is dynamic and moving, is difficult, if not possible. There are however techniques you can employ to capture a hologram at its best. Proper exposure and color temperature are important.  Basically you want to capture the best images possible using technique. Certain colors and backgrounds can also help. By selecting a background that contrasts and compliments the hologram, helps it standout. As you can see in the photo above, because the hologram color is similar to the background, you can basically see right through it. If you have the luxury of moving around, try to find the best angles for both the background as well as the lighting. Try to capture the hologram when it is still, of course this also works well with live subjects. This particular hologram, though made with light, was not particularly bright, requiring longer shutter speeds. Just to state the obvious, flash will not work on a hologram. Waiting and timing the stage lighting also changed the appearance of the hologram so be aware and use the stage lighting to your advantage when possible. Finally, if you can get close in camera, a certain amount of post production will bring the hologram to life as well. Just make sure you have something good to work with before you get to post.

Hologram of BB King performing on stage with a live guitar prodigy during a keynote at a corporate event in Seattle

Skin tones of the hologram were the most difficult and when I could get the skin tone close, the entire quality of the hologram’s appearance in photos improved.

Hologram of BB King vanishing in a burst of light during an on stage performance with a live guitar prodigy during a keynote session

To be frank, when I capture these several years ago at a corporate event in Seattle, what you see in the images is about as good as the hologram looked live. I am not sure what expected but at the time these were shot, technology of this sort was just starting and we were certainly not at science fiction ability yet. It was an exciting presentation and the attendees loved it, but my expectations for the photography needed to be tempered with the reality of trying to capture a hologram. I provide this example and info as more of a discussion of the process. Scouting, preparation, equipment and technique are usually the most important aspect of any challenging shoot. Getting lucky, but it won’t consistently get the results you need to be a successful professional.

CEO presentation during a keynote speech at a corporate event with a hologram of the world created on stage

Less fanfare but just as spectacular was the hologram of the earth. This is actually a 3D hologram and it rotated slowly as the speaker delivered his presentation. The simpler colors, stage lighting and dark background made it a much easier hologram to shoot and capture. Being prepared for the most challenging aspects of a shoot, help you handle the easier stuff as well.

Stage set and design behind a corporate presentation during a general session at a corporate event

When shooting keynotes, general sessions and speakers, well exposed, straight on shots of the presenters are expected, but look for different angles and alternate lighting to provide some unique images to enhance and excite your client and the attendees.

Full audience of business event attendees seated with a elaborate stage set and waiting for the beginning of a general session during a corporate event

Getting crowd shots of seated attendees can be challenging. Getting faces and great expressions are important but also having beautiful lighting and interesting backgrounds helps too. Shot from the front looking back unfortunately, would leave a black, boring wall as a background and make the use of on camera flash more obvious.  In this case, I have balance to the exposure with the flash to create a more natural image. The on camera speedlite is covered with a tungsten gel, and I have used a wall to camera right to bounce and soften the light to make it seem a bit more natural.

Business associates greet each other with a handshake before the beginning of a general session with an elaborate stage set in the background for a corporate event

Right place at the right time. This sort of networking shot, with attendees interacting, smiling and excited is photo gold for event planners and photographers. This kind of illustration can help tell a story of a valuable and informative conference and I find these shots get used a lot. I had dialed in my exposure and flash balance for the previous shot and then I got lucky when these two stood up to shake hands. Lucky, sure, but I was also prepared. What is they say about luck?

Hologram of a golden guitar and a band performs on stage during the entertainment portion of a corporate event

The guitar is also a hologram. I captured the image because they were giving away a replica of the guitar BB King was playing on stage on this hologram was used to illustrate the announcement. It is a striking images that gets attention. And next to it is a shot of a band that performed during parts of the corporate event. I liked the angle of this shot.

Seated presenter behind a laptop projects a presentation on to a large screen during a breakout session at a corporate event

Breakout sessions are an integral part of any corporate event. They are also meant to provide information, not photo ops and therefore can be very difficult to make look good. In the case of the photo above, using and interesting image on screen and then placing the speaker in a isolated spot in the frame, I was able to create an interesting image. Don’t forget to look for images on large and small screens that can help illustrate the session or at least provide some color and contrast.

Convention attendees pose for the camera and attendees listen to a presentation during a breakout session

People smiling and willing to pose are always good subjects. Never pass up on the opportunity if your subjects are willing. In this indoor hallway shot, I have not only exposed for the hallway, but also provided a subtle pop of flash balanced with the room light. This helps eliminate shadows under eyes and helps the subjects stand out.  It is important that the flash is subtle and not too bright or the background to dark in order to create natural looking candids and portraits. I basically used the same balanced flash lighting technique on the image above right. Balanced for room light and screen, with a pop of flash bounced off the wall camera left to create a natural, well lit images of a breakout session.

Attendees crowd around exhibits during the trade show portion of a multi day corporate event

An elevated position helps convey a crowded trade show of interested attendees. Several other compositional factors make this a good photograph. Leading lines and repetition help lead our eyes towards the people. There is also some color harmony going on with the gold and blue in the displays and screens matching the shirts on some of the vendors. When covering medium size, multi day or multi faceted events try to tell as story and capture each element event as thoroughly and creatively as possible. If you take this approach to every event, big or small, your clients will become repeat clients. Check out my blog for more tips and event photography info and feel free to check out my event portfolio to view more of my work. Until next time…..




Now based out of San Diego, John Morris has been a successful corporate event photographer in Las Vegas for the past 15 years. John also teaches and coaches photography and business to aspiring photographers.